112 minutes

It's always worth asking what should be the rationale for a reboot of any film franchise – in the case of mythical warrior Conan, risen from Robert E. Howard's pulp stories of the 1930s to become Arnold Schwarzenegger's breakthrough role in 1982 under the guidance of gung-ho “new Hollywood” man John Milius, box-office seems to be the only reason, since neither can Hawaiian wrestler Jason Momoa claim the charisma of the Governator, nor does German ad maestro turned B movie director Marcus Nispel bring anything new to sword-and-sorcery fantasies.

     The script by Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer and Sean Hood sets up a new origin story for the character – as the son of a Cimmerian chief who grows up to seek revenge on Khalar Zym, the man who killed his father and destroyed his village while searching for a mystical mask whose dark powers will give him control of the known world. Resolving itself into a series of action battle setpieces thinly threaded together, Conan the Barbarian does boat an appropriate color palette of drab, copperish hues (translating very dimly into the 3D effects) and the occasional impressive scene (namely the sand warrior sequence, with mr Momoa fighting warriors conjured out of pure sand by Rose McGowan's evil witch). But it never rises above the standard of a B-level movie punching above its pay grade (it's the biggest budget ever from poverty-row studio Millennium Films, even though it's nowhere near the current asking price for a self-respecting Hollywood blockbuster). Whether it will truly relaunch the character as a viable franchise depends purely on its box-office reception; artistically, it doesn't give any reason as to why it is worth relaunching.

Starring Jason Momoa, Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lang, Rose McGowan, Saïd Taghmaoui, Leo Howard; and Ron Perlman.
     Directed by Marcus Nispel; produced by Fredrik Malmberg, Boaz Davidson, Joe Gatta, Danny Lerner, John Baldecchi, Les Weldon, Henry Winterstern; screenplay by Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer and Sean Hood, based on the character created by Robert E. Howard; music by Tyler Bates; director of photography (colour by DeLuxe, Panavision widescreen), Thomas Kloss; production designer, Chris August; costume designer, Wendy Partridge; film editor, Ken Blackwell; visual effects producer, Scott Coulter; special make-up and make-up effects supervisors, Shaun Smith, Scott Wheeler.
     A Lionsgate/Millennium Films presentation of a Millennium Films production in association with Emmett-Furla Films Productions and Conan Properties International. (US distributor, Lionsgate. World sales, Millennium Films.)
     Screened: distributor advance press screening, Zon Lusomundo Colombo 9 (Lisbon), August 18th 2011.


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